This week, Toronto residents saw students from numerous high schools take to the streets to protest the loss of extra-curricular activities at their high schools as part of the continuing battle between the Ontario government and its public school teachers.
Next week, however, the heat is really going to be turned up as a one-day strike by public elementary school teachers in Toronto is expected at some point before next Friday, Dec. 21.
The union representing the elementary school teachers, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), has been calling one-day strikes in school boards across the province since Monday of this week. The ETFO is giving boards, and parents, 72 hours notice of the impending strikes. Perhaps by the end of this week or early next week, Toronto residents with children in the public system should know what day the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) will strike the elementary schools.
The TDSB will close the doors of its schools with students from junior kindergarten to Grade 8. The board has sent home letters to parents encouraging them to start making alternate arrangements for their elementary school children now.
For thousands of parents this is going to be a costly, complicated and stressful day.
But by working together in our neighbourhoods and school communities we can make it easier for those facing challenges.
Communities in other boards have come up with some good ways of dealing with the strikes beyond taking the day off work or sending the kids to other family members.
For instance, the City of Ottawa announced it would be extending its before and after school programs on the day of the strike. We expect to see an announcement from the City of Toronto shortly that it will be doing the same.
Also, other organizations are stepping up. In the case of Ottawa again, the Ottawa Senators said they’d offer a full-day hockey camp that day for kids aged five to 12. Hello, Toronto Maple Leafs – there’s a great idea.
There are many other great ideas out there parents can start sharing with each other right now, so that those who are able to help with child care on strike day can do so while those who must go to work can also do so.